A New Analysis Of Wahhab Doctrines

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A New Analysis Of Wahhab Doctrines Author:
Translator: Mansoor L. Limba
Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center
Category: Religions and Sects

A New Analysis Of Wahhab Doctrines

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Muhammad Husayn Ibrahimi
Translator: Mansoor L. Limba
Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center
Category: visits: 9426
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A New Analysis Of Wahhab Doctrines

A New Analysis Of Wahhab Doctrines

Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

A New Analysis of Wahhabi Doctrines

A text that examines fundamental Wahhabi beliefs in comparison to those of the Ahlus Sunnah and the Shi`ah. Topics discussed within include a summarized account of the life of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, one of the prominent figures of this movement, and some of the major ideological issues in which Wahhabis deviate from mainstream Muslims (like Tawassul, Ziyarah, Ta'wil of the Qur'an, etc.).

Author(s): Muhammad Husayn Ibrahimi

Translator(s): Mansoor Limba

Publisher(s): ABWA Publishing and Printing Center

Table of Contents


Introduction 7

The distinctive features of this book 7

Is Wahhabism a movement?7

Explanation of some points8


Islam as the School of Unity 9

Keeping aloof from spitefulness9

Why Wahhabism should be identified 10

Leaders and Unity 11


The Life Account of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Ibn Sa‘ud 13

A cursory glance at the life account of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab 13

Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab after the death of his father13

The children and students of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab 14

The Death of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab 14

To whom was Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab indebted 15

Ibn Sa‘ud 16


Tawhid from the Shi`ah and Wahhabi Points of View 17

The negation of reasoning {ta‘aqqul} in the Wahhabi school and its consequence17

A few words from Martyr Professor Murtadha Mutahhari17

Shirk {polytheism} in Essence18

Tawhid in Attributes18

Tawhid in Actions19

Tawhid in worship 19

The foundations of Tawhid according to the Wahhabis20

Tawhid in the Names and Attributes20

Shirk {polytheism} and its limits according to the Wahhabis21

The socio-political consequences of Tawhid and shirk {polytheism} according to the Wahhabis21

The Wahhabi-Shi`ah difference of perspective on Tawhid 21


Tawassul {Resorting To Inter mediation}, Death and Shafa‘Ah {Intercession} According to the Shi`ah and the Wahhabis24

Tawassul according to the Wahhabis24

Analysis of the above verses25

Turning for help {istimdad} of the weak to the strong 25

Tawassul in the Qur’an 25

Death according to the Wahhabis27

The permission to resort to the sacred personages27

Istimdad and tawassul to the living ones28

The preeminence of tawassul to the Divine Essence28

The family of the Prophet is my shelter29

Shafa‘ah according to Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Ibn Taymiyyah30

The precedence of the negation of tawassul and shafa‘ah 32

The ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah and the reaction of Ahl as-Sunnah 32

The ‘ulama'’s opposition to Ibn Taymiyyah 33


Ziyarah {Visitation} and the Laws Pertaining to the Graves and Mosques According to the Shi`ah and Wahhabis36

Ziyarah according to Sunnis and Shi`ah 36

The views of Ibn al-Qudamah 36

The view of ‘Allamah Majlisi37

Visiting the grave as an excellent sunnah 38

The laws pertaining to the graves and mosques39

Honoring the mosques and praying beside graves40

Argument based on verse 21 of Surah al-Kahf41

Another argument42

Construction of mosques near the graves42

Elevation of the graves43

The Wahhabi viewpoint concerning the ornamentation of mosques and holy shrines44

Traveling to for visit mosques44


The Miracles {Karamah} of the Saints of God {Awliya’ Allah}46

Seeking blessings {tabarruk} from the sacred stones48

Seeking Tabarruk from the Prophet (s) and his relics49


Allegorical Interpretation {Ta’wil} in the Qur’an 50

Ta’wil according to the Wahhabis50

The Juhaymi nature of the Shi`ah 51

The Wahhabis have not trodden the path of enlightenment52

Celebration and Mourning according to the Shi`ah and the WahhabiCelebration and Mourning according to the Shi`ah and the Wahhabi52

Celebrations and festivals52

The two festivals {‘idayn} acceptable to the Wahhabis53

Respectable places and dates53

Festivity {‘id} in the Qur’an 54

Festivity in Islamic Narrations55

The statements of al-Mawardi56

Mourning according to Islam and Wahhabism 56

A critique of the quoted tradition 57

The other argument of the Wahhabis57

The precedence of mourning 58

Types of elegy writing 59


Distortion {Tahrif} in the Qur’an, Traditions and History 63

The excuses and distortions of Wahhabism 65

Tahrif in the statements and works of the Prophet66

First instance66

Fourth instance69

Fifth instance69


Absolute Obedience to the Ruler72

Obedience to the ruler and one vested with authority {wali al-amr} among the Shi`ah75

The first wali al-amr after the Prophet and the criterion of preeminence of the Companions76

First, precedence in faith 77

Second, struggle77

Third, knowledge and learning 77


Bibliography 82

Back of Book 83


In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-Merciful

The precious legacy left behind by the Holy Prophet's Household {ahl al-bayt} (May peace be upon them all) and their followers' preservation of this legacy from the menace of extinction is a perfect example of the all-encompassing school {maktab} that embraces all the different branches of Islamic knowledge. This school has been able to train many talented personalities by quenching them with this gushing fountain.

This school has presented scholars to the Muslim ummah who, by following the Holy Prophet's Household ('a), have occupied the station of clarifying doubts and skepticism put forth by various creeds and intellectual currents both inside and outside Muslim society. Throughout the past centuries, they have presented the firmest answers and solutions to these doubts.

Anchored in the responsibilities it is shouldering, the Ahl al-Bayt ('a) World Assembly has embarked upon defending the sanctity of risalah {message} and its authentic beliefs - truths which have always been opposed by the chiefs and leaders of anti-Islamic sects, religions and trends. In this sacred path, the Assembly regards itself as a follower of the upright pupils of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt ('a) - those who have always been ready to refute those accusations and calumnies and have tried to be always in the front line of this struggle on the basis of the expediencies of time and space.

The experiences in this field, which contained the books of scholars belonging to the school of the Ahl al-Bayt ('a), are unique in their own right. It is because these experiences have been based upon knowledge {'ilm} and the preeminence of the intellect and reasoning, and at the same time, they are completely devoid of blind prejudice, whim and caprice. These experiences address experts, scholars and thinkers in a manner that appeals to healthy minds and the pure human natural disposition {fitrah}.

In a bid to assist those who are in quest of truth, the Ahl al-Bayt ('a) World Assembly has endeavored to enter a new phase of these worthy experiences within the framework of research and translating the works of contemporary Shi'ah writers or those who, through divine guidance, have embraced this noble school.

The Assembly is also engaged in the study and publication of the valuable works of pious predecessors and outstanding Shi`ah personalities so that those who search for the truth may quench their thirst from this refreshing fountain by listening and embracing this truth, which the the Holy Prophet's Household ('a) has offered as a gift to the entire world.

It is hoped that our dear readers would not deprive the Ahl al-Bayt ('a) World Assembly of their valuable opinions, suggestions and constructive criticisms in this arena.

We also invite scholars, translators and other institutions to assist us in propagating the pure Muhammadan (s) Islam.

We ask God, the Exalted, to accept this humble effort and enhance it further under the auspices of His vicegerent on earth, give us success to al-Mahdi (may Allah, the Exalted, expedite his glorious advent).

It is appropriate here to express our utmost gratitude to Hujjat al-Islam wa'l-Muslimin Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Ibrahimi for writing the book, and to Mr. Mansoor Limba for translating it, as well as all our honorable colleagues in accomplishing this task especially our close associates in the Translation Office for undertaking this responsibility.

Cultural Affairs Department

The Ahl al-Bayt ('a) World Assembly


In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Twelve years ago, the book, Tahlili Nu bar 'Aqa'id Wahhabiyyan {A New Analysis of Wahhabi Doctrines}, was written and it has been so far printed three times by the Publication Center of the Islamic Propagation Office of the Islamic Seminary in Qum.

With the help of God, a review of its content was undertaken for its fourth printing and new chapters and issues were added.

The distinctive features of this book

This book examines Wahhabi beliefs in the light of the beliefs of the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi`ah.1 It endeavors to discuss their main ideological issues. The quotations in this book are cited from books published in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina such as the following:

1. Fath al-Majid written by Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, one of the prominent figures of this movement, with a commentary by Shaykh 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn al-Hasan al ash-Shaykh and footnotes by 'Abd Allah ibn Baz.

2. Al-As'ilah wal-Ajwibah al-Usuliyyah written by 'Abd al-'Aziz Muhammad Sultan.

3. At-Tawhid bi'l-Lughah al-Farisiyyah (No. 27) published by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Endowments in 1374 AHS (circa 1995) and distributed freely to Iranian pilgrims.

In addition to these references, other sources written by Sunni and Shi`ah Imami 'ulama' in general, and Wahhabis in particular, are cited in the footnotes.

This book contains an examination of the views and outlook of the Wahhabis regarding the Shi`ah and the infallible Imams ('a).2 Be that as it may, it does not mean that intellectually, ideologically, and even politically and socially, the Wahhabis have no clash with the Ahl as-Sunnah. In this book, we will also deal with this point.

Is Wahhabism a movement?

Many socio-religious reforms and movements have already emerged among Muslims. Some of them are purely political such as those involved in changing the types of governments regardless of whether or not a preference for a particular type of government exists. Some others are purely religious and their concern is only reform in religious and ideological content. Yet, others have been religious and socio-political such as the Islamic Revolution in Iran. These types of movements cannot be regarded as mere reformist movements as they have affected all aspects of life - religious, personal, social, etc. Indeed, the very word “revolution” is the best label for these kinds of movements.

In reply to the question being posed, it must be said that the truth of the matter is that Wahhabism is merely a political movement that emerged within a religious-ideological framework, and it has brought about a particular social outcome. Of course, the final view must be expressed by social and political scientists.

Explanation of some points

Wahhabism has been labeled with many various names among which is the appellation, ”Salafiyyah”. This name is used because they believe that for the reformation of their religion and beliefs, the present Muslims must go back to the early period of Islam (”salaf” means the past or preceding one). Ibn Taymiyyah has introduced the issue of ”salaf” and his statements are a source of Wahhabi doctrines.

By “Wahhabism” it means that Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab must be followed in socio-political and religious issues because he has taught his followers the way to reform religion and society. The members of these two sects, Wahhabism and Salafism, are followers of the madhhab {school of thought} of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. This group can also be called the ”Zahiriyyah” because in interpreting the passages of the Qur'an and traditions, they content themselves with the outward {zahir} content of the texts. For example, when the Qur'an says:

﴿وَجَاءَ رَبُّك وَالْمَلَك صفًّا صفًّا﴾

And Your Lord and the angels arrive in ranks,3

They interpret it as saying that God will also arrive on the Day of Resurrection in such a way that the people can see Him!

This writing contains subjects that explain the above headings and expresses the Shi`ah Imami beliefs regarding those subjects. At any rate, I will try to make it simple, easy-to-read and devoid of complex reasoning. It is hoped that this work will be acceptable to God, the Exalted, and approved by Hadrat Sahib al-Amr {His Holiness Master of the Affair} (Imam al-Mahdi) ('a).

Muhammad Husayn Ibrahimi

Islamic Seminary of Qum

1379 AHS (Circa 2000)


1. In this volume, I have used the word “Shi‘ah” to refer to both the group (single collective unit) and the individuals constituting the group (plural). [Trans.]

2. The abbreviation, “‘a” stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, ‘alayhis-salam, ‘alayhimus-salam, or ‘alayhas-salam [may peace be upon him/them/her], which is used after the names of the prophets, angels, Imams from the Prophet’s progeny, and saints (‘a). [Trans.]

3. Surat al-Fajr 89:22. In this volume, the translation of Qur’anic passages is adapted from Sayyid ‘Ali Quli Qara’i, The Qur’an with a Phrase-by-Phrase English Translation (London: Islamic College for Advanced Studies Press, 2004). [Trans.]

Islam as the School of Unity

The Holy Qur'an invites all human beings to unity - Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc. - and this invitation is not exclusive for the time of the Prophet (s) or a certain group of the People of the Book {ahl al-kitab}:1

﴿قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللَّهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ . ﴾

Say, 'O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, and that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah'.2

The Glorious Qur'an speaks about the synagogue, temple, church and mosque in the same line because the Name of God is mentioned in all of them. As such, they must be held in high esteem and respect.

Although the blessed verse quoted invites all to unity, the greater emphasis is on the solidarity of Muslims. This is because, in addition to their unity and commonality in tawhid {unity of God}, prophethood {nubuwwah} qiblah {the direction where one faces for prayer and other acts of worship}, etc., Muslims also have a commonality with some branches of religion. Thus, among the followers of the various religions, Muslims are more deserving of having unity, and thus the possibility of scientific, cultural, political and other interactions among them is stronger. {the direction where one faces for prayer and other acts of worship}, etc., Muslims also have a commonality with some branches of religion. Thus, among the followers of the various religions, Muslims are more deserving of having unity, and thus the possibility of scientific, cultural, political and other interactions among them is stronger.

Keeping aloof from spitefulness

The life conduct {sirah} of the Holy Prophet (s)3 serves as a proof, guideline and model for all of us. Through compassion, magnanimity and endeavor, he (s) was able to unify the people of Hijaz,4 most of whom had been idol-worshipers, under the banner of Islam.

After their acceptance of Islam, some of them, known as the munafiqun {hypocrites}, engaged in open confrontation with the Prophet (s) who had to deal with them. They were those who ostensibly embraced Islam but in intention and practice they were not assisting him (s). In spite of this, the Prophet (s) peacefully associated with them and his objectives were the accomplishment of the mission as well as imparting the understanding and implementation of the Holy Qur'an. The very same conduct was adopted by the infallible Imams ('a) and they never kindled the flame of discord among Muslims.

We can see that although 'Ali ('a) had reproached the earlier caliphs as recorded in Nahj al-Balaghah,5 in other instances he would laud them. All this was primarily to foster the freedom of thought and the spread of Islamic beliefs. The conclusion is that in the present age, indulging in magnifying Sunni-Shi`ah differences, apart from not being useful, will result in an irreparable loss.

Proximity between Sunnis and Shi`ah advances the interests of both. The Shi`ah in particular have not confined their thought, culture, jurisprudence {fiqh}, exegesis of the Qur'an {tafsir}, and beliefs to themselves and their seminaries. A survey of Muslim-populated countries substantiates this statement as the books of great Shi`ah figures such as Shaykh al-Mufid, Shaykh at-Tusi, 'Allamah Hilli, 'Allamah Tabataba'i, and Professor Mutahhari can be easily found in these countries.

The proximity of Sunnis and Shi`ah opens the ways for the spread of Shi`ah thought and culture in the Muslim world, and as a result, makes the further proximity of these two sects even more possible.

More than anyone else, the Wahhabis are apprehensive and endangered by this proximity. It is for this reason that during the Hajj season, they prohibit the entry into the country all religious books including the Qur'an (in Persian translation), tafsir, history and hadith books, and even Iranian magazines and newspapers. This is because they are afraid that these printed materials would present facts against their particular policy and doctrines. This is in spite of the fact that those matters are never repugnant to the truth of Islam.

In terms of outlook, they oppose not only the Shi`ah but also the four Sunni schools of thought. They write books against the proximity of Sunnis and Shi`ah, campaigning against it, regarding it as an impossible venture, and claiming thus: “We shall never have an understanding with those who are engaged in speculative interpretation of the verses of the Qur'an and who disrespect the two sheikhs {shaykhayn}.”

Why Wahhabism should be identified

The anti-unity campaign of Wahhabis reaches its peak during the Unity Week.6 One of the best means of replying to such a plot is that the 'ulama' of the Hajj caravans and pilgrims should be the promoters of unity more than anyone else. They should be familiar with the methods of dealing with them and understand their views and opinions so that during confrontations and argumentation's, they could reply to them consciously and intellectually.

It is necessary for some Muslims who are following the Sunni school to be properly informed about the opinions of the Sunni imams so as to realize that the Wahhabis also have views difference to them and even regard many of the beliefs of the Ahl as-Sunnah as polytheistic and, worse still, prone to infidelity {kufr}. In reality, Wahhabism is a political movement under the religious cover of identifying with the Sunnis and it wants to prevent the unity of the Islamic schools of thought {madhahib}. It is trying to kindle the flame of discord among Muslims especially between the two main sects - Sunni and Shi`ah - so as to make the imperialist hegemony permanent over the Muslim nation.

Unfortunately, with the acquisition of the oil-rich land of Arabia and reliance on the enormous God-given wealth, Wahhabism has succeeded in becoming a potent force and has established innumerable offices and organizations throughout the world for the propagation of its dogma. In the Sunni-populated regions of Iran and Pakistan where most of the people are suffering from poverty and deprivation, the Wahhabis are making huge investments, constructing religious schools {madaris}, spending large amounts of money upon their students and others, and attracting people to Wahhabi doctrines. Since most of our Sunni brothers are living on the border regions of Iran, they are more subjected to the influence of the propaganda of the imperialist Wahhabis.

As the 'Alawi Shi`ah and Muhammadi Sunnis have risen up now hand in hand against their enemies and can clearly see the hand of imperialism behind the curtain of Wahhabism, it is necessary for Sunni and Shi`ah 'ulama' to conduct research about Wahhabism and identify it well so as to make it clear that this group has differences of opinion not only with the Shi`ah but also with the Ahl as-Sunnah. Although the Wahhabis are always playing the Sunni card and try to portray themselves as the well-wishers and sympathizers of the Sunnis, Sunnis in turn have to know that the issues regarded by Wahhabis as their points of departure with the Shi`ah are the same issues that are common between the Sunnis and the Shi`ah. They also have to know that the Shi`ah school is closer to the Ahl as-Sunnah than Wahhabism is.

Leaders and Unity

During the past decades, there were figures who regarded the unity of Muslims as their ideal and aspiration, but they did not realize this precious aspiration, or if they ever took steps for its realization, they were very insignificant and rudimentary. In the recent period, the late Ayatullah Burujerdi (r)7 gave an affirmative reply to this aspiration by approving the Jami'ah at-Taqrib bayn al-Madhahib al-Islamiyyah {University or Forum for the proximity of the Islamic schools of thought}.

There have been other 'ulama' and fuqaha who upheld the approach of the late Burujerdi. In this context, the viewpoint and outlook of the late Hadrat8 Imam Khomeini (r) and his efforts are well known to all. At the present time also, in a bid to extend the scope of this unity further, Ayatullah Khamene'i (may his sublime presence endure) has issued a decree for reviving the foundation of unity and the forum for proximity, which is itself worthy of gratitude and a source of hope.

It is appropriate for us to note at this juncture that the Shi`ah 'ulama' and fuqaha of the past, such as Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413 AH), Sayyid Murtadha 'Alam al-Huda (d. 436 AH), and Shaykh at-Tusi (d. 460 AH), among others, have also emphasized unity between Sunnis and Shi`ah, and have written valuable books on this subject such as al-Khilaf which enumerates the common points of belief between the two groups. 'Allamah Hilli has also written a book on the basis of the jurisprudence {fiqh} of the Shi`ah and the four Sunni schools.

All these are proofs for the proximity of jurisprudential views of the two schools and of the interest of leading figures in jurisprudence in establishing mutual understanding. Of course, at the present time there are treatises on jurisprudence written by Sunnis in which the views of the Sunnis and the Shi`ah on the branches of religion and jurisprudence have been compared. For example, the books Mawsu'ah Jamal 'Abd al-Nasir and Al-Fiqh 'ala'l-Madhahib al-Khamsah can be cited.


1. People of the Book [ahl al-Kitab]: the respectful title given to the Jews and Christians in the Qur’an. [Trans.]

2. Surat Al ‘Imran 3:64.

3. The abbreviation, “s”, stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam [may God’s salutation and peace be upon him and his progeny], which is used after the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s). [Trans.]

4. Hijaz: the region in Western Arabia bordering the Red Sea that includes Ta’if, Mecca and Medina. Here, it alludes to the entire Arabian Peninsula. [Trans.]

5. Nahj al-Balaghah (The Peak of Eloquence) is a collection of speeches, sayings and letters of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (‘a) compiled by Sharif ar-Radi Muhammad ibn al-Husayn (d. 406 AH/1016). The contents of the book concern the three essential topics of God, man and the universe, and include comments on scientific, literary, social, ethical, and political issues. With the exception of the words of the Glorious Qur’an and of the Holy Prophet (s), no words of man can equate it in eloquence. So far, more than 101 exegeses have been written on Nahj al-Balaghah, indicating the importance of this treatise to scholars and learned men of research and investigation. For more information, visit: http://www.al-islam.org/nahjul. [Trans.]

6. 12-17 Rabi‘ al-Awwal. [Trans.]

7. The abbreviation, “r” stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, rahmatullah ‘alayhi, rahmatullah ‘alayha, or rahmatullah ‘alayhim [may peace be upon him/her/them], which is used after the names of pious people. [Trans.]

8. Hadrat: The Arabic word Hadrat is used as a respectful form of address. [Trans.]

The Life Account of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Ibn Sa‘ud

A cursory glance at the life account of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab

In this section, we deemed it fitting to take a survey of the life of Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, known as the Shaykh, and Muhammad Sa'ud.

The sons and grandsons of the Shaykh are still living in the Arabia, some of whom are known by the family name, “Al ash-Shaykh”. The children of Muhammad Al as-Sa'ud some of whom are holding the reins of government in Arabia are known as “al Sa'ud”. The country had been known before as “Hijaz”, but it was changed into the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” {al-Mamlakah al-'Arabiyyah Sa'udiyyah} during the reign of King 'Abd al-'Aziz.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab came from the region of Najd who was born in 1114 AH in one of the cities of Najd named as ”'Ayniyyah”. His father, Shaykh 'Abd al-Wahhab, was a scholar {'alim} and the judge {qadi} of that region. As such, the creed of Shaykh Muhammad had been ascribed to his father. After learning the basics of religion from his father, Shaykh Muhammad went to Medina and learned from the 'ulama' of that region.

Due to his personal interpretations of some issues regarding belief and his opposition to the 'ulama' of Medina, he was expelled from the city. He then went to Iraq where he stayed in Basrah. In that city he got acquainted with a person named Shaykh Muhammad Majmu'i and adopted his ideas. Finally, the two believed in a certain creed.

The other 'ulama' of Basrah and the believers of the region that were mainly of Iranian origin, had opposed him and ousted him from Basrah.

When Shaykh Muhammad was driven out of Basrah, he proceeded to Damascus, which had a pleasant climate, but because of his unusual belief and difficulties in life he was unable to remain there. Since he could not return to Medina or Mecca, he went back to the Najd of his father, Shaykh 'Abd al-Wahhab, who was then still the 'alim of the region.

The Shaykh had a brother named Shaykh Sulayman ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab who was at loggerheads with him in terms of belief. His brother was the first person to write a book refuting his doctrines. His father also opposed him and sided with Shaykh Sulayman. In addition to the opposition of his father and brother, he also faced the opposition of 'ulama', and this dispute continued until the death of his father.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab after the death of his father

After the death of his father, Shaykh Muhammad enjoyed great freedom in propagating his doctrines and views. As such, he went to other places and become acquainted with 'Uthman ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad, who was then the emir of 'Ayniyyah, and married his daughter Jawharah. Although it is said that the people there accepted some of his beliefs, because he went to extremes in opposing their customs, they expelled him from the region. For instance, he had ordered the destruction of a dome belonging to Zayd ibn al-Khattab, brother of 'Umar. He had also issued a decree for an old tree, which was venerated by the people of the region, to be uprooted.

In sum, on account of his peculiar doctrines, among which was his disregard for the leaders of the Ahl as-Sunnah, the Shaykh lost his esteem in the people's sight and earned their wrath. From there he went to the region of Dar'iyyah.

Nowadays, pilgrims - Iranian and non-Iranian - can still see the relics related to the rule of 'Uthman in Arabia such as the holy shrine of the Holy Prophet (s) and the graves surrounding it, the lanterns of Masjid an-Nabi, and the inscriptions on that sacred mosque.

The children and students of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab

Shaykh Muhammad had a number of sons and daughters and married one of his daughters to Muhammad ibn Sa'ud, the tribal chief. His sons, Husayn, 'Abd Allah and Ibrahim, became judges after their father. Even now, his sons, one after another, hold religious positions in Saudi Arabia.

During his lifetime, apart from training students, the Shaykh wrote some books which nowadays have caught the attention of 'ulama' and students of the region. These books are as follows:

1. Kitab at-Tawhid; a collection of his doctrines;

2. Kitab Kashf ash-Shubahat, which is written in defense of his doctrines vis-à-vis Sunni 'ulama';

3. The merits and issues of some stories in the Qur'an;

4. Kitab al-Kaba'ir, which has been written about the major sins;

5. Masa'il al-Jahiliyyah, in which he compares the pre-Islamic period of ignorance of Arabia with his own time;

6. Fawa'id as-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, which is well-known as Sirat ar-Rasul. This book examines the entire course of the lives of some Companions of the Prophet (s), his battles and the prevalent beliefs during that time;

7. Ikhtisar ash-Sharh al-Kabir; and

8. Adab al-Mashyi ila's-Salah (These two books have been written about issues related to jurisprudence and the branches of religion).

These books are still available at the present.

The Death of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab

After engaging in religious and political debates, successive travels to a number of cities in the Muslim world, and enduring the wrath and anger of the 'ulama', Shaykh Muhammad was able to find his own supporters and votaries, who are nowadays known as the Wahhabis.

According to historical sources which have been written in his praise and appreciation and negating the deviant nature of his doctrines, the Shaykh passed away in 1206 AH at the age of 92 in Dar'iyyah after traveling to Basrah, Najaf, Karbala', and probably, Isfahan and Shiraz.

In short, after the death of the Shaykh, his beliefs and views were promoted and propagated with the support and blessing of external and domestic political brokers in such a manner that at the present, most of the current rulers of Arabia and a number of religious scholars and judges there follow him and other Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and boarder communities in Iran have come under the influence of these doctrines. The Wahhabis are spreading this creed in the various countries in Europe, America and Asia by building mosques and libraries, printing copies of the Holy Qur'an, dispatching religious missionaries, and the like.

This creed is called Wahhabism derived from the name of the Shaykh's father. Although the Shaykh seemed to be a follower of the Hanbali school of thought, the truth of the matter is that he was not so, and he was distinctively different from the other 'ulama'. In fact, he regarded himself as free to think, choose and formulate his own beliefs pertaining to religion. Since he considered himself an initiator of a new set of beliefs, he expressed his beliefs in the following points:

1. He treated all Muslims as infidels or polytheists while thinking of himself as the true Muslim;

2. He declared visiting the graves and constructing domes and courtyards around the cemetery of the Companions of the Prophet (s) and his descendants as unlawful {haram};

3. He regarded making vows, requests and offering sacrificial animals beside the shrine of saints {awliya'} as unlawful;

4. He used to reckon as haram entreating {istighathah} and resorting to the inter mediation {tawassul} of the saints of God;

5. He considered it obligatory to wage jihad against those who opposed his creed, saying: “Wage war against the infidels and polytheists until there is no more sedition {fitnah} and the religion is solely for God:

﴿وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ . ﴾

Fight them until faithlessness is no more.1

What is meant by the Shaykh in this verse is jihad against Muslims and for him the pure religion is referred to his creed.

This is the summary of the life account and beliefs of Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab as taken from Kitab At-Tawhid bi'l-Lughati al-Farisiyyah.2 Of course, other points shall also be mentioned in other discussions.

To whom was Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab indebted

During the period of his stay in Mecca and Medina, Shaykh Muhammad came across books that had a role in the formation of his thought. Among them are the books of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, his Musnad in particular; the books of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah; and the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah. Contrary to other 'ulama' of the Ahl as-Sunnah, they expressed new beliefs and opinions which can be extracted from their books on jurisprudence and history. Of course, the Shaykh was largely influenced by the views of Ibn Taymiyyah.

Ibn Taymiyyah lived during the 8th century AH. In terms of belief, he was follower of Ahmad ibn Hanbal who lived in the 3rd century AH. Ibn Taymiyyah believed in a sort of anthropomorphism concerning God maintaining that God has a hand, foot, eye, tongue and mouth, and occupies a space! In order to prove his case, he resorted to the literal text of Qur'anic verses, maintaining that God is sitting on a throne in heaven.

Ibn Taymiyyah is the epithet and title of Abu'l-'Abbas Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn 'Abd al-Halim. He was born in the territory of Harran in present-day Turkey. He then migrated with his father to Damascus, Syria, and there he acquired learning in religion and jurisprudence. In many ideological and intellectual issues, he held extreme and radical views.

In addition to his anthropomorphic beliefs concerning God, he prohibited visitation of the graves and seeking the intermediation {tawassul} of the Prophet (s) while deeming it permissible to abuse Imam 'Ali ibn Abi Talib ('a). On issues in jurisprudence, he opposed the predecessors of the four Sunni schools. From the above points, it can be understood that the Shaykh was not the first person to have expressed such beliefs, for individuals such as Ibn Taymiyyah had advanced similar ideas prior to him.

Like Shaykh Muhammad, Ibn Taymiyyah earned the wrath and stern criticism of the 'ulama' of his time and for a time he was exiled to Egypt. But through the help of the government of the time, he returned to Damascus. During the last period of his life, he was imprisoned for his opposition to the 'ulama' of Damascus and finally expired in the castle of Damascus and was buried there.3

Ibn Sa‘ud

In the territory of Dar'iyyah in the region of Hijaz, which is a mountainous territory with a pleasant climate, a person named Muhammad ibn Sa'ud assumed the chieftainship of his tribe. The Shaykh became acquainted with Ibn Sa'ud and relayed to him his new doctrines, and Ibn Sa'ud in turn accepted them. They agreed together to set up a government encompassing the entire region where religious and judicial affairs, issues concerning propagation, and the leadership of the Friday prayers would be assumed by the Shaykh while the political, social, military, and security affairs would be under Ibn Sa'ud.

The government in Hijaz at that time was tribal and ethnic, and like many Muslim countries, was under Ottoman rule whose capital was present-day Turkey. With Al Sa'ud's ascension to power, Hijaz seceded from Ottoman rule and in the course of time, it fell under the control of Britain. On course, the British role in this change of the government should not be overlooked.


1. Surat al-Baqarah 2:193.

2. Kitab at-Tawhid bi’l-Lughah al-Farisiyyah, no. 27, pp. 16-34.

3. ‘Ali Dawani, Firqeh-ye Wahhabi, chap. 1.